Derreen Gardens (V)

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Garden Category: Republic of Ireland Gardens

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  • The passion of an Edwardian grandee for shrubs and trees collected from around the globe and lush sub tropical growth promoted by the Gulf Stream combine to make this an unforgettable place. Not for ideas which can be copied in the average garden, to be sure, but for a store of indelible memories.

    Among them are the sight of huge rhododendrons in bloom like so many vividly coloured clouds that have come to rest improbably on the wild shores around Kilmacillogue Harbour. Or an island linked by an extraordinary plank bridge to the shore, and veritable thickets of tree ferns in sheltered, green twilight where you might expect dinosaurs to come crashing through the primeval-looking growth.

    The sights are a reminder that a wider range of plants can be grown in Ireland than anywhere else at the same latitude. A fact which no doubt spurred on the 5th Marquis of Landsdowne when he planted 400 acres of woodland to shelter a collection of shrubs and specimen trees, many of them brought back from his sojourns as Viceroy of India and Governor General of Canada.

    The estate, now owned by the Hon David Bigham, is still in the same family, and head gardener Jacky Ward’s father was head gardener before him This is a place for stout walking shoes, the better to explore the labelled paths starting with the Big Rock and leading to the evocatively named ‘Kings Oozy’ (a boggy area where Edward VII planted a tree), or the viewing point known as Knockatee Seat – or to get up close and personal with shrubs which include camellias, magnolias, crinodendrons and hoherias. Read more …

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